puppy gets its pet vaccinations

Know Your Pet Vaccinations Schedule in Australia


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Vaccinations are a hot topic these days; they’re in every headline and most conversations (we’re talking the COVID vax if you’re reading this years later). The attention is a good thing, just as the jabs are – they help us humans stave off potentially life threatening viruses and bacteria. Pet vaccinations do just that too; they help keep our fur kids safe.

As you can imagine, being close to the ground gives pets a front row seat to all kinds of harmful substances. You’d be surprised (ok, maybe not) by just how many dangers lurk in your pet’s purview. I mean it’s hard not to notice the way our beloved dogs smell each other’s bottoms and eat food off the floor.

And although cats have great cleaning and preening fetishes, they are nevertheless often quite mobile. Even if yours is an indoor cat, they’ll need their vaccinations just as much because other cats can always visit your balcony.

So, while the human population queues up for their vaccinations, here’s what you need to know about your pet’s vaccination schedule:

Our pets company has served us well during times of lockdown and social distancing.

Pet vaccinations schedule – by pet

Schedules for vaccinations vary from dogs to cats, but some of the viruses that affect them are related. For example, the Parvovirus that affects dogs also affects cats and is known as Feline Panleukopenia.

Your pet vaccinations schedule is generally timed to begin at around six weeks of age, by which time pets are often weaned. This is also when their maternal immunity starts wearing off. By maternal, we mean the natural antibodies passed from mum cats and dogs to their kittens and puppies in the womb, and again through their milk.

These natural immunities do well in introducing healthy puppies and kittens into the world, but they last a matter of weeks. From there on, your puppy and kitten need you to step in, take them to the vet and get started with pet vaccinations.

Here’s the schedule for dogs and cats:

puppy rests after pet vaccinations

Puppy vaccinations

Puppy vaccinations start at six weeks and continue with several boosters in the first year. Thereafter, the schedule eases to an annual booster to maintain immunity.

Puppy vaccines are divided into core and non-core vaccines, with core being absolutely necessary for all dogs. Non-core vaccines are decided by your vet, based on where you live and what type of pathogens your pup may be exposed to.

For example, all dogs must be vaccinated against distemper (core-vaccine). But only some dogs will need safeguarding against Leptospirosis (non-core). Although Leptospirosis can also be fatal, it’s only found in places where dogs are exposed to water contaminated by rat or marsupial urine.

Generally, your vet will run the routine core vaccines and introduce any necessary non-core vaccines into your existing schedule so you don’t need extra visits to the vet.

Here’s the suggested vaccinations schedule for dogs:

Puppy vaccination schedule

6-8 weeksInitial vaccination
10-12 weeksFirst booster
14-16 weeksSecond booster
16 monthsThird booster, one year after second booster
AnnuallyOngoing, every twelve months to maintain immunity

Puppy vaccinations: Core and non-core

As mentioned before, there are essential or core vaccines and non-core vaccines that dogs often still get. Here’s what each group of vaccines guards against:

Core puppy vaccinations
  1. Canine distemper virus. Distemper is a highly contagious airborne virus that can be fatal. It can be spread through close proximity or direct contact with another animal (it lives on a wide variety of hosts including cats and primates). There are a wide range of symptoms, including but not limited to paralysis, vomiting, fever, sneezing and a runny nose, coughing and blood in the stool.
  2. Canine hepatitis. Hepatitis is a viral infection of the liver that can be fatal to dogs. It can be contracted when a dog ingests infected saliva, mucous, urine or stool from an infected dog. Symptoms include loss of appetite, coughing, fever, congestion, depression and an extreme discharge from the eyes.
  3. Canine parvovirus. Parvo is a contagious, life-threatening virus contracted through contact with an infected dog or surfaces they’ve come into contact with. Parvo symptoms vary and include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhoea, hypothermia and weight loss
Non-core puppy vaccinations

Non-core puppy vaccinations are routinely given with the booster round of core vaccinations. These include Leptospirosis, which we mentioned earlier, Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough), Parainfluenza (a respiratory virus) and Canine coronavirus.

Read our article on puppy health care milestones to find out more about these diseases and your puppy’s key health milestones.

kittens rest after pet vaccinations

Kitten vaccinations

Like puppies, kittens will also have a series of vaccinations to build and maintain lifetime immunity. They too have their core vaccines, regardless of where they live in Australia. Your vet will consult with you and be able to decide which non-core vaccines to include with your pet vaccinations schedule.

Here’s the suggested kitten vaccinations schedule:

Kitten vaccination schedule

6-8 weeksInitial vaccination
10-12 weeksFirst booster
14-16 weeksSecond booster
6-12 monthsThird booster
Every 1-3 yearsA booster every one to three years to maintain immunity

Kitten vaccinations: Core and non-core

Speak to your vet to understand which core and non-core disease vaccinations need including in their vaccination schedule. Here’s what you’ll be safeguarding them for:

Core kitten vaccinations

  • Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV). Also known as feline parvovirus, this contagious virus can be life threatening. The disease spreads through direct contact with an infected animal and objects they’ve come into contact with. Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, lethargy and diarrhoea.
  • Feline herpesvirus (FHV-1). Also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis, this can be transmitted through contact with virus particles (inhalation). It can also be caught through contact with a sick animal or objects it comes into contact with. The potentially fatal virus causes upper-respiratory tract infections and can result in pneumonia.
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV). This is a life threatening contagious virus that contaminated air particles can transmit. For example, breathing droplets from a sneeze. Or, through direct contact with sick pets or things they’ve been in contact with. Symptoms are similar to those of a cold and can include sneezing, congestion and drooling.

Non-core kitten vaccinations

Your kitten’s vax schedule will typically include some non-core vaccines. These will be for immunity against feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus that can develop into a cat type Aids (FIV), and feline chlamydiosis.

Pet vaccinations according to your vet

Now you know what to expect in Australia with pet vaccinations, be mindful that each pet has unique circumstances. You should always follow your vet’s recommended schedule for your pet’s vaccinations.

Circumstances that can affect your pet’s immunity are numerous… Exposure to wildlife. The pets around them. Their other physical ailments. Where you got them from (a shelter, kennel, friend or breeder). And so on.

Also note that the age your pet is when you get them can influence what vaccinations they need. For instance, adopting an adult dog means they might require a booster shot to get back on schedule.

Pet insurance

Vaccinations will likely be only a small part of your vet experiences, some of which may will run into hundreds or thousands of dollars. Pet insurance can cover a whole host of medical costs throughout your pet’s lifetime, from non-routine vet visits to surgery and on to ongoing medication.

Plus, if you sign up online with PD Insurance we’ll give you one or more months of pet care cover for free!

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